Can the Giants be a Super Bowl Contender in 2020?

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst and a former player and scout. In his article  What makes a Super Bowl contender? from April 2019 he and Daniel Jeremiah list how many “blue” players a team needs to make the Super Bowl. They also list a roster composition for a Super Bowl contender.  Daniel Jeremiah is also an NFL analyst and former college quarterback and NFL scout.

A “blue” player is defined as a team difference maker and a top 10 player at their position. The article says a team should have eight to ten “blue” players. Their roster composition is as follows:

1 franchise quarterback
3 offensive linemen
3 offensive playmakers
2 pass rushers
3 defensive playmakers

So how do the Giants map out for this criteria? I will take a little liberty on the “blue” definition and include potential shown and high level of play. With a more liberal definition the Giants could meet the criteria of having eight “blue” players.  Here is my take on how their roster composition for a Super Bowl Contender would fill out.

1 franchise quarterback Daniel Jones
3 offensive linemen Nick Gates Kevin Zeitler ?????
3 offensive playmakers Saquon Barkley Evan Engram Darius Slayton
2 pass rushers Markus Golden Lorenzo Carter
3 defensive playmakers Dalvin Tomlinson Leonard Williams Dexter Lawrence

One Franchise Quarterback

Daniel Jones is the heir apparent to the Giants franchise quarterback succeeding Eli Manning. Jones had a record breaking rookie season. Here is a list of his accomplishments with the total number of rookies all time that also achieved the mark which includes Jones.

⇒ three games with 4+ passing touchdowns (3 rookies),
⇒ five games of 300+ passing yards (3 rookies),
⇒ five games with 2+ passing TDs and 0 interceptions (5 rookies).
⇒ one game of 300+ passing yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions (1 rookie)

This season Jones has the second highest 1st down conversion percentage (47.6%) for rushes among quarterbacks with over six rushes.

Jones is one of only nine rookie quarterbacks all-time to have 25+ total touchdowns and Jones accomplished it in the least amount of games.

Daniel Jones is one of only three quarterbacks all-time that in their rookie season had a 60% completion percentage, 3000+ passing yards, 24+ passing touchdowns and an 85+ passer rating. The other two are Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield.

The Giants have hired Jerry Schuplinski, the former Dolphins Assistant Quarterbacks Coach, as the new Giants quarterback coach.  Schuplinski has worked to help develop Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett as an offensive assistant three years on the Patriots.

Sure one year is not much to base future projections on but so far all things look positive.

Three Offensive Linemen:

Nick Gates played in all 16 games in 2019 and made three starts. He was an undrafted free agent signing in 2018 but was injured and did not play in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded gates with a 75.1 overall grade in 2019 which is a good grade. In college Gates started in all 35 games in which he played before forgoing his senior season to join the NFL. He started 25 straight games at left tackle during his sophomore and junior season. As a junior in 2017, Gates started all 12 games at left tackle and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches and media.

Kevin Zeitler was ranked as the 17th best offensive lineman and ninth best guard  through week 15 of this season by Pro Football Focus. In 61 combined pass-blocking snaps this season, Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry.  He finished the season with a 76.4 overall grade.

Third offensive lineman is lacking based on ratings by Pro Football Focus of the rest of the Giant offensive line.

Three Offensive Playmakers

Saquon Barkley is one of only six running backs all-time that in their first two seasons had  3400+ yards from scrimmage, 2300+ rushing yards, a 4.8+ average yards per rush attempt and 23+ touchdowns. He is the first to accomplish this since 2009.

Darius Slayton is one of only 12 wide receivers in 2019 with 40+ receptions, 700+ receiving yards, 8+ receiving touchdowns and 8.0+ yards per target.  Slayton and A.J. Brown are the only rookies among the twelve.

Evan Engram is one of only eight tight ends since 1992 that in their first three seasons had 1750+ receiving yards, 12+ receiving touchdowns and a 7.0+ yards per target average. Engram achieved this tie with Jordan Reed with the  least amount of games.

Two Pass Rushers

Markus Golden is one of six players in 2019 that had 10+ sacks, 35+ solo tackles, 10+ tackles for loss and 25+ quarterback hits.  Of the six Golden had the most total tackles. Golden had the ninth most pressures in 2019 in the league.

Lorenzo Carter is one of only 13 players over the last five seasons that in their first two years had 8+ sacks, 55+ solo tackles, 10+ tackles for loss and 20+ quarterback hits.

Three Defensive Players

Dalvin Tomlinson is one of only ten defensive tackles in 2019 that had 3.5+ sacks, 23+ solo tackles, 7+ tackles for loss and 9 quarterback hits. Dalvin Tomlinson is the Giants highest graded player on defense for 2019 by Pro Football Focus with a 78.1 overall grade. That ranks 11th among all interior DL with at least 500 snaps and makes his 3rd consecutive season grading above 78 overall.

Leonard Williams had the seventh most pressure among defensive tackles in 2019.  At the end of October 2019 PFF reported that Leonard Williams :

  1. Had the Third most run stops among interior defensive linemen since 2016.
  2. Had the Third most tackles for loss among interior defenders since 2016.
  3. Since 2016 Had 38.7% of his run tackles go for a loss or no gain, which is second only to Aaron Donald.

Dexter Lawrence was named to PFF’s 2019 NFL All-Rookie Team. He racked up 38 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. He also recorded one forced fumble and one pass defended while playing in all 16 games. Lawrence’s 76.3 run-defense grade was tops among rookie defensive tackles and ranks 21st among 117 qualifying interior defenders this season. His 30 total pressures on the year were tied for the most among first-year players at the position as reported by PFF.

In Conclusion

The Giants need to add a “blue” offensive lineman either draft, free agency or one of the existing players steps up. Their three defensive playmakers are all concentrated at one position. That appears a little one dimensional for a Super Bowl contender. They also need to add a “blue” player at some other defensive position.

In regard to the draft and aspirations for a Super Bowl contender team the Giants are set at quarterback, running back, interior defensive line and tight end. They should look to bolster the offensive line with a draft pick. The other positions of wide receiver, linebacker, edge rusher and defensive back should go best player available.

The players listed here need to continue to have a productive season in 2020. If that happens, this team with say two “blue” player additions or existing players stepping  up can have a huge one season turnaround and achieve a Super Bowl contender roster.

Giant Head Coach Joe Judge Admires Vince Lombardi

The Green Bay Packers hired coach Vince Lombardi from the Giants in 1959. The Packers had just come off a 1-10-1 record season. The prior ten seasons were all losing records with two seasons at .500.  Things were so bad that their 1959 top draft pick opted to play in the Canadian League rather than on the Packers. Lombardi took them to a winning record his first season of 7-5.  In his nine seasons as head coach he never had a losing record. Lombardi won five championships for the Packers in those nine seasons. He is tie with Bear coach George Halas for the second most championships by a head coach.

” I’d start in the football realm, coaching-wise. I’d say Coach [Bill] Belichick and Coach [Nick] Saban. Obviously, Vince Lombardi is someone I’ve studied, obviously I’ve never worked with him….” – Joe Judge when asked who are leaders you admire.

It would appear Vince Lombardi is someone that Joe Judge looks up to and has built some of his football philosophies around. Here are some quotes from Joe Judge and similar quotes from Vince Lombardi.

We’ll punch you in the nose for 60 minutes. We’ll play every play like it’s a history in a life of its own with a relentless, competitive attitude.” – Joe Judge

“We shall play every game to the hilt with every ounce of fiber we have in our bodies.” – Vince Lombardi

“The only culture we’re gonna have in that building, period, is a winning culture.”- Joe Judge

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

“I’m about caring for the players in the locker room. Let’s not forget there’s a human element to this game. Let’s not think that in professional sports that paying a pay check to somebody makes it absent of empathy. We need to make sure that we take care of the players in our locker room, that we treat them the right way, that we teach them the correct techniques, and that we put them in the right situations to be successful. “  – Joe Judge

“Our single most important public is our own employees—our team,” he said. “For without a skilled, coordinated group of talented people behind us, we haven’t a chance in the world of attaining success.” – Vince Lombardi

“It’s a contact sport, you can’t get around that. It’s meant to be a physical game. It’s for tough people. We will practice with a physical attitude. We will practice in pads, we will practice live tackling…” – Joe Judge

Lombardi ran physically grueling practices

“I’ve done 2 boot camps in the marines. And those didn’t even come close to how hard Lombardi’s practices were. We couldn’t believe it, we just thought this guy was crazy.” Said Gary Knafelc, one of the star Green Bay players.

“Guys would lose consciousness right there on the field. There was vomiting and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a guy just keel over,” said Gary Kramer, another player on the team. “He wanted every once of ability you had, and he would not relent until you gave it to him.”

We’re going to ask these men to come in and give everything they have every day. We’re going to demand it, and we appreciate everything they give us.” – Joe Judge

“Football is just one of the things we do in life, but it is what I do and what my players do, and so we must do it as best we can. There is only one way to succeed in anything and that is to give everything, I do and I demand that my players do.” – Vince Lombardi

“The same things win football games that have always won football games. It’s fundamentals. Those fundamentals will start for us in the classroom. They’ll start with being in meetings on time, they’ll start with being on the field on time in the proper dress.” – Joe Judge

Vince Lombardi insisted that players would adhere to a strict dress code and be on time for everything.

We’re going to start by showing up on time, by having a plan, for executing that plan. It’s going to be fundamentals.” – Joe Judge

Lombardi speaking to his team at the start of training camp in 1961: “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Without going into too many details about the interview, I would say when we spoke about discipline on the team, that’s something very important to me. I think you need to have the fundamental foundation of discipline on your team, that you hold players accountable. ” – Joe Judge

“There is only one kind of discipline, and that is the perfect discipline. As a leader, you must enforce and maintain that discipline; otherwise, you will fail at your job.” – Vince Lombardi

That is blue collar, it’s hard work, it’s in your face. We’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re going to come to work every day and grind it out the way they do in their jobs every day.” – Joe Judge

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.” – Vince Lombardi

You come in, you put the team first. We’re going to ask our players at times to do things that necessarily may not be what they have in mind for themselves. But if it’s best for the team, they have to be willing to go forward with it, because that’s what a winning culture is.” – Joe Judge

“Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.” – Vince Lombardi.

“...it’s important to address everybody, not only on the what they have to do, but how it should look, what we’re going to do to get there, and why it’s important, And what you find out when you’re coaching players. They’re not robots and if they understand what the end result is supposed to look like and why it’s important”.- Joe Judge

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.” – Vince Lombardi

Some of the principles of Lombardi’s coaching philosophy included:

  1. Find the strengths of your players and work that into the game as he did with running back Paul Hornung.
  2. Lombardi had an attention to detail. He kept extensive files on every NFL team and did the same on his players when he was hired.
  3. He strove for perfection and expected the same from players and coaches but also realized it is not attainable.
  4. Look for players that have intelligence and versatility. Get players that play with heart and put the team before personal desires.
  5. Lombardi believed in practicing the fundamentals until they were second nature. “Football is two things. It’s blocking and tackling. I don’t care anything about formations or new offenses or tricks on defense. You block and tackle better than the team you’re playing, you win.”
  6. His practices were tough and demanding.
  7. Lombardi had high ideals and would not tolerate prejudice or dishonesty.
  8. He was big on running the ball.

Joe Judge has some of the best coaches ever in the list of who he admires – Belichick, Saban and Lombardi. Judge will be his own man but would be wise to learn from these leaders to formulate his style of coaching. Judge’s introductory press conference and subsequent interviews indicate that he has incorporated many of the philosophies that made Lombardi one of the best if not the best coaches in NFL history.

 

 

East West Shrine Game Players To Watch

The annual East West Shrine game is on this Saturday (1/18) on NFL Network at 3:00 PM ET.  Based on college production here are some participants  and potential draft targets to keep an eye out for.

Quarterbacks

Mason Fine, North Texas

Over the last three seasons Mason Fine is fourth in the number of games with a passer rating of 140+  with 24 games. Of the 98 players with 10+ games  Fine’s 61.5% of total games is 29th.

Tyler Huntley, Utah

In 2019 Huntley was second in the NCAA in Pass Completion Percentage (73.1%),  third in Passing Yards per Attempt (10.3 yards) and fifth in Passing Efficiency Rating (177.6).

Malcolm Perry, Navy

Perry was second in the NCAA in rushing yards (2,017). He averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and was tie for third in rushing touchdowns with 21. According to PFF, he broke more tackles than any player in the country this season with 88. Perry is working out as a receiver at the Shrine Game.

Running Backs

Levante Bellamy, Western Michigan

Bellamy was tie for first in the NCAA in rushing touchdowns with 23.  He got a first down on 25% of his rush attempts. On fourth down he was six of seven for a first down and averaged 10 yards. Bellamy had eight games in 2019 in which he rushed for 100+ yards, averaged 4+ yards per carry and had at least one rushing touchdown.  Only five players had that many games.

Benny LeMay, Charlotte

LeMay was one of only three players to have 1000+rushing  yards, 200+ receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns in each of the last two seasons.

Tight Ends

Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ricci was first in the MAC conference in receiving touchdowns with eight. He was deadly in the red zone where he had seven touchdowns on nine receptions.

Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida

Reliable hands, fearless over he middle, large catch radius; Each of his four years over 50% of his receptions were for first down. In 2018 it was 65%.

Place Kicker

Dominik Eberle, Utah State

One of only two current kickers to be perfect on over 160 career extra points.

Offensive Line

Darryl Williams, Mississippi State

Lot of dog in him late in plays and chases down opponents for pancakes and finishes (thedraftnetwork.com). As of mid-October 2019, Williams had started 31 of the prior 32 games and only surrendered one sack over that span. Williams had made 303 snaps by mid-October and only allowed three quarterback pressures.

Kevin Dotson

2017 All Sun Belt Second Team, 2018 First Team and 2019 First Team. A bulldozer in the run game.

Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon

An All Pac-12 Honorable Mention for each of the last four seasons. He has played tackle (both sides) guard and center. He allowed only one sack the last three years. Throckmorton has started 52 games. For the 2018 season he had PFF‘s third highest graded pass-blocking grade in the country.

Edge Rusher

Alex Highsmith, Charlotte

A 2018 and 2019 All C-USA First Team. A walk-on at Charlotte, Highsmith has improved every year. As graded by PFF he went from a 60.9 pass-rushing grade in 2016 to 71.2 in 2017 to 75.6 in 2018 to 91.4 as of the end of November 2019. In 2019 Highsmith is number two in the nation in tackles for loss with 22 and number three in sacks with 15.

Joe Gaziano, Northwestern

Gaziano improved each season going from All BigTen Third Team in 2017 to Second Team in 2018 to First Team in 2019. Joe had outstanding teammarket share percents in 2019 with 7.3% in solo tackles,  24.6% in tackles for loss and 39.1% in sacks.  In addition he had 3 forced fumbles and 5 passes defended.

Casey Toohill, Stanford

2019 All Pac-12 Second Team. One of twelve finalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy  which is awarded to the American college football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. It is considered by many to be the “Academic Heisman”. In 2019 Toohill had team market share percents of 7.9% solo tackles (37), 16.2% tackles for loss (11.5) and 29.6% sacks (8). All percentages indicative of a potential Pro-Bowl player based on historical data.

Mike Danna, Michigan

In 2018 Dana had the following stats with team market share –  36 solo tackles (6.7%), 14 tackles for loss (18.3%) and 8.5 sacks (35.4%). All market share percents indicative of a potential Pro-Bowl player.  Selected to the  2018 All MAC First Team.

Khalil Davis, Nebraska

A 2018 All Big Ten Honorable Mention (Media) and a 2019 Third Team (Coaches) and Honorable Mention (Media). His eight sacks this season was tops in the Big Ten among defensive tackles. Word is he has dominated the entire week at the Shrine Game practice.

Linebacker

John Houston, USC

2019 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention.  One of only twelve players to have 5+ solo tackles in nine games this season. His 11.99% team market share of solo tackles is indicative of a potential Pro Bowl player.

Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State

Tezino’s 69 solo tackles in 2018 was a 14.7% team market share of solo tackles.  Tezino was a 2018  and 2019 All Mountain West Conference First Team.

Cornerback

Elijah Riley, Army

2018 and 2019 Phil Steele’s All Independent First Team; Proven himself against elite wide receiver prospects for the past two seasons, while dominating against lesser teams. (thedraftnetwork.com) In 2018 Riley had a 45.4% completion percent allowed and only 0.62 yards per cover snap. (PFF) In 2019 had 55 solo tackles (12%), 3 interceptions (43%) and 6 passes defended (27%) showing team market share percents. One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football

Luq Barcoo, San Diego State

2019 All Mountain West First Team; One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football. In 2019 his stats and market share are – he had a league high 9 interceptions (50%) and 16 passes defended (27%) to go with 43 solo tackles (9.9%). Excels at the catch point with experience at wide receiver and solid hands. Always seems to be in the proper position. Aggressive player and was third on the team in total tackles.

Parnell Motley, Oklahoma

2019 All Big 12 Second Team.  A PFF All Big 12 First Team. In 2019 on 44 targets he allowed just 10 first downs and two touchdowns.

Lavert Hill, Michigan

2018 and 2019 All Big Ten First Team.  2017 All Big Ten Second Team (Coaches). Hill had good market share percents in 2019 with a 33.3% for interceptions (3) and a 22.5% for passed defended (9).

Nevelle Clark, UCF

2018 All AAC First team.  One of only five players over the last two seasons to have 4+ interceptions and 24+ passes defended.

Safety

David Dowell, Michigan State

In 2017 Dowell led Big Ten defensive backs with a 34.5 passer rating allowed when targeted in the slot as reported by PFF. A 2017 All Big Ten First Team (Media), a 2018 Third Team (Coaches) and Honorable Mention (Media) and a 2019 Honorable Mention (Media).

Myles Dorn, North Carolina

2019 All ACC Honorable Mention. One of only nine players in 2019 to have 2+ interceptions, 6+ passes defended, 45+ solo tackles and 80+ total tackles.

Enjoy the Game!

Update: The Giants met with the following players at the Shrine Game listed in this post

Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah
Kevin Dotson, G, La.-Lafayette
Casey Toohill, LB, Stanford
Michael Danna, DE, Michigan

 

 

 

2019 Playoff Divisional Winner’s And Key Objectives

Here are some key objectives teams strive for to win games and how the playoff winners have fared with those objectives.

The winning teams in the playoff games provided some performances that rank high among all-time post season games. In the NFL since 1940 there have been over 560 post season games. Here are where this weeks winners ranked in some key objectives.

1 Win the Turnover Battle

Titans were 1st among 2019 playoff games in turnover margin with +3 against the Ravens. The next 2019 playoff team was at +1. The plus three turnover margin is tie for 85th to 173rd among all time playoff teams. Among all-time playoff games in which a team threw zero interceptions the Titans turnover margin is tie for 16th.

2 Run the Ball, Stop the Run and Play Strong Defense

The 49ers had +165 in rushing yards margin against the Vikings. That was tie for 43rd among all-time post season games. They had a 38.5 to 21.5 time of possession which was 38th among all-time post season games. The 49ers had 47 rush plays to 19 pass attempts. (Rushing yards margin is a team’s rushing yards minus the opponent’s rushing yards.)

They held Vikings Dalvin Cook to 9 attempts for 2.0 yards per attempt. In the regular season Cook averaged 4.5 yards per attempt for 1000+ yards. Holding an opponent to 2.1 yards per rush attempt is 66th among all-time post season.

49ers tops in the 2019 playoff games with a 3.27 yards per play allowed. The next team was at 4.77.  The 3.27 yards per play allowed is 72nd among all-time post season games. The 49ers were second during the regular season in defensive yards allowed per play with 4.66.

In the Titan’s game against the Patriots the Titans had 13 rushing first downs. That was tie for ninth among all-time post season games.  The number of playoff teams that rushed for 13 first downs in a post season game hold the 9th to 19th slot all time.

3 Efficient Error Free Quarterback Play (TD% And Int %)

The Titans had a Touchdown percentage of 20% against the Ravens which was tie for seventh best among all-time post season games. This with a 0% interception percent. The Chiefs had a 14.3% Touchdown Percent which was tie for 27th among all-time post season games. They also had a 0% interception percent. The touchdown percentage is touchdowns per pass attempt.

4 Convert on 3rd Down

Packers were tops in 3rd down conversions in the 2019 playoffs with 64.3%. Six of their nine 3rd down conversions were on their four touchdown drives.  Another two kept the ball away from Seattle with 2.5 minutes left to play. The Packers elevated their play in the playoff game as during the regular season they were 23rd in the league in 3rd down conversions with only a 36%. Green Bay’s 2019 playoff game 3rd down conversion percent against the Seahawks is tie for 17th all time for a postseason game

Enjoy the Conference Championship Games!

2020 NFL Draft Prospects For the Giants

Now that the Giants season is over and they have a new head coach it is time to start looking forward to the NFL draft. Today I look at position needs for the Giants and interesting prospects that could fill those needs.

1. An off-ball three down linebacker.

a. Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (Day 1)

⇒ Has a 12.3% of team market solo tackles
⇒ 2019 ACC Defensive Player of Year and Dick Butkus Award
⇒ Excels in pass coverage and has 3 interceptions and 6 passes defended in 2019.
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

b. Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma (Day 1)

⇒ Has a 12.4% team market share solo tackles
⇒ Fast with great sideline to sideline pursuit
⇒ Three down LB. Can play the pass or run.
⇒ One of only five players since 2000 to have two seasons of 65+ solo tackles, 4+ sacks and 12+ tackles for loss. The other four include Pro Bowl players Steeler Ryan Shazier and Buccaneer Lavonte David.

c. Troy Dye, Oregon (Day 2)

⇒Had a 12.0% team market share of solo tackles in 2017 and 11.5% in 2018.
⇒ Athletic 3-down back that can get into the backfied
⇒ Seventh among active career leaders in total tackles for loss with 44 and 160 yards lost.

d. Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech (Day 2)

⇒ Has a 12.3% team market share of solo tackles
⇒ Nine weeks thru the season Brooks allowed only 81 yards in coverage on 199 plays he dropped back.
⇒ One of only 15 players since 2000 to have 60+ solo tackles and 20+ tackles for loss in a season.

e. Evan Weaver, California (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Number 1 in the nation in solo and total tackles.
⇒ Has a 19.6% team market share of solo tackles.
⇒ Good instincts, quick processing, always around the ball, great run coverage and high motor.
⇒ One of 10 finalists for the 2019 Senior Class Award given to FBS student-athletes who excel both on and off the field.
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

f. Logan Wilson, Wyoming (Day 3)

⇒ Has a 12.1% team market share of solo tackles.
⇒ PFF 2019 All-American 1st Team, the only defensive player in the country to field elite grades against the run, in coverage and when blitzing the passer.
⇒First linebacker to have 60+ solo tackles, 4+ interceptions and 7+ passes defended in a season since Danny Trevathan did in 2011.

g. Ben Holt, Purdue (Day 3/UDFA)

⇒ a 12.6% team market share of solo tackles.
⇒ Number 2 in the Big Ten in Solo and Total Tackles.
⇒ In 2018 at W. Kentucky Holt was targeted 37 times as the primary coverage defender, gave up only 0.77 yards per cover snap and didn’t allow a touchdown.

2. An offensive tackle.

a. Andrew Thomas, Georgia (Top 10)

⇒ Started all 15 games as a true freshman in 2017;
⇒ Aggressive play, powerful brute strength.
⇒ Excels in run blocking
⇒ 2019 All-SEC First Team
⇒ Allowed all of 35 pressures in three years as a starter (PFF)
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

b. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (Top 10)

⇒ Number 1 on Bruce Feldman’s 2019 college football Freaks List.
⇒ Matt Miller’s Best Day 1 Starter among offensive tackles
⇒ Only allowed multiple pressures in two games this season, and he only allowed one total pressure over his last six games. (per Pro Football Focus)
⇒ 2019 Big-Ten First Team and Big Ten Rimington–Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year

c. Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama (Day 1)

⇒ Allowed 11 pressures all season but only 1 in his last 5 games (PFF)
⇒ 2019 All-SEC First Team.
⇒ Excellent in the run game.
⇒  Mauler Road-Grader.

d. Mekhi Becton, Louisville (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 All-ACC First Team.
⇒ Powerful huge lineman (6’7″, 369 lbs) that displays great power and strength at the point of attack.  Yet quick in pass sets.
⇒ Had second-most big-time blocks of any OT in the FBS (PFF).

e. Trey Adams, Washington (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 All PAC-12 First Team
⇒ Mentioned as a potential draft prospect three years in a row for the Giants (2017, 2018, and 2019) and here’s one for the 49ers in 2018.
⇒ Tough, relentless and plays to whistle. Road-Grader. Very good in pass protection. Can play against all types of pass rushes.
⇒ History of injuries.

f. Alex Taylor, South Carolina State (Day 3)

⇒ Huge at 6’9″ and 305 lbs, a former basketball player with great length
⇒ Dominated small school competition
⇒ Good movement skills, good leverage, dominant run blocker

3. A Free Safety.

a. Grant Delpit, LSU (Day 1)

⇒  In 2018 Delpit was a Consensus All American and had team market share totals of 11.1% solo tackles, 29.4% interceptions and 13.8% passes  defended. All indicative of a potential Pro-Bowl player.
⇒ Can play any backfield position. Instincts, ball skills and tackling are top of the class.
⇒ 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner, awarded to the top defensive back in college football.

b. Xavier McKinney, Alabama (Day 1)

⇒ 2019 All-SEC First Team and had team market share totals of 12.6% solo tackles, 17.6% interceptions and 10.0% passes  defended.
⇒ tough aggressive tackler, dynamic range with fast closing speed, versatile player can play all backfield positions.
⇒ 2019 ESPN All-America Team, McKinney had 3 interceptions,  5 passes defended, 4 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, 59 solo tackles and 95 total tackles. The forced fumbles was fourth in the nation.

c. Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 Big Ten Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year and All Big-Ten First Team.
⇒ Had team market share totals of 12.9% solo tackles, 50.0% interceptions and 2.0% passes  defended.
⇒ A playmaker usually going for the pick and his punt return experience helps him take it to the house. Seven interceptions in 2019 and one for a touchdown,
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

d. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 All ACC Second Team and had team market share totals of 11.1% solo tackles, 25.0% interceptions and 5.9% passes  defended.
⇒ Versatile having played safety and linebacker; FSU 2019 Defensive MVP
⇒ ACC Player of the Week for recording 22 tackles in a game. Had at least 17 tackles in two games in 2019.

e. Douglas Coleman III, Texas Tech (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 All Big-12 First Team
⇒ One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football.
⇒ In 2019 Coleman had 50 solo tackles (9.3%), 8 interceptions (57%) and 2 passes defended (6.7%).
⇒ A former high school receiver who in his senior year had had 62 receptions, 1,482 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 23.9 yards per catch and 98.8 yards receiving per game.

f. Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh (Day 3)

⇒ Team market share totals of 12.0% solo tackles, 11.1% interceptions and 14.5% passes  defended.
⇒ 2018 All ACC Honorable Mention
⇒ Versatile, good range, aggressive in coverage and run support

g. B.J. Edmonds, Arkansas State (Day 3/UDFA)

⇒ Had team market share totals of 9.1% solo tackles, 16.7% interceptions and 21.7% passes  defended.
⇒ 2019 All Sun Belt Second Team and 2017 All Sun Belt Honorable Mention.
⇒ Number 1 in the Sun Belt Conference for punt return yards per return (10.8)

4. A Center

a. Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (Day 1)

⇒ 2017 All Big-Ten Third Team,  2018  and 2019 All Big-Ten First Team
⇒ Excels in run blocking; Wisconsin was top ten in the nation in yards per rush attempt the last two seasons.
⇒ Biadasz has allowed just two total pressures in 2019 and is the only center with elite grades in both the run game and the passing game. (PFF)
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

b. Nick Harris, Washington (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 All-America Second Team (Sports Illustrated), 2018 and 2019 All-Pac-12 First Team
⇒ Gave up just five quarterback pressures on the season on 361 snaps in pass protection (PFF All Pac-12 First Team)
⇒ Great work ethic. Good in pass and run blocking. Excels at blocking in space.

c. Jake Hanson, Oregon (Day 2)

⇒ Excellent in pass protection
⇒ Can read defenses and alter blocking assignment calls
⇒ Four year All Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention
⇒ Going into the 2019 season, Hanson had allowed 12 total pressures but not allowed a single sack in 3 years as starting center.

d. Darryl Williams, Mississippi State (Day 2)

⇒ Lot of dog in him late in plays and chases down opponents for pancakes and finishes (thedraftnetwork.com)
⇒ As of mid-October 2019, Williams had started 31 of the prior 32 games and only surrendered one sack over that span. Williams had made 303 snaps thus far in 2019 and only allowed three quarterback pressures.
⇒ Williams made PFF SEC team of the week in week 10 this season. He was the highest-graded run-blocking lineman for the Bulldogs and helped pave the way for the team’s over 450 yards on the ground, Williams did not allow a single quarterback pressure on his 22 pass-blocking snaps.
⇒ Twice named SEC Offensive Lineman of the week in 2019.

e. Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU (Day 3)

⇒ 2019 All-SEC First Team
⇒ LSU won the 2019 Joe Moore Award that goes to the Most Outstanding Line in College Football.
⇒ First offensive lineman to be awarded the No. 18 jersey which is given to the player that best represents what its means to be an LSU football player – on and off the field.

5. A Wide Receiver

a. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (Day 1)

⇒Third in the nation in yards per reception (21.4)
⇒ A 32% receiving yards team market share
⇒ Good hands, tough to tackle, great ball tracking & adjustment

b. Tyler Johnson, Minnesota (Day 2)

⇒ Seventh in the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns
⇒ Over 40% receiving team market share each of last two years
⇒ tough, strong, physical; good in crowds & contested catches

c. Devin Duvernay, Texas (Day 2)

⇒ #2 in receptions in the nation
⇒ A 37% team market share of receiving yards
⇒ can make strong catches through traffic up and over defenders

d. Omar Bayless, Arkansas State (Day 3)

⇒ #1 Receiving Yards and #3 Receiving touchdowns in nation
⇒ A 40% team market share of receiving yards
⇒ red zone threat and can create yards after the catch

e. Gabriel Davis, UCF (Day 3)

⇒ In 12 games had 98+ yards in 7  and 2+ TDs in 5
⇒ A 30% receiving yards team market share
⇒ good route runner and adjusts to the ball

6. A Cornerback

a.Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State (Day 1)

⇒Was allowing a 37.6 passer rating when targeted heading into the final game of the season per PFF.
⇒ One of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football.
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

b. Luq Barcoo, SDSU (Day 3)

⇒ 2019 All Mountain West First Team
⇒  One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football.
⇒ In 2019 had a league high 9 interceptions (50%) and 16 passes defended (27%) to go with 43 solo tackles (9.9%).
⇒ Excels at the catch point with experience at wide receiver and solid hands. Always seems to be in the proper position. Aggressive player and was third on the team in total tackles.

c. Reggie Robinson II, Tulsa (Day 3)

⇒ 2019 All AAC First Team
⇒ Fifth in Passes defended with 17 (31%), 17th in Interceptions with 4 (60%) to go with 26 solo tackles (6%); (showing team market share %s).
⇒ Tied for ninth among active career leaders in passes broken up (34).

d. Isaiah Rodgers, U Mass (Day 3)

⇒One of two players in the last 6 years to have career totals of 125+ solo tackles, 11+ interceptions and 34+ passes defended.
⇒ 2019 Phil Steele’s All Independent Second team and 2017 Phil Steele’s all-Independent First team
⇒ In 2019 had 29 solo tackles (6%), 4 interceptions (36%) and 9 passes broken up (45%).
⇒ PFF 2019 All American First Team for Kick Returner. The only returner to eclipse 1,000 yards. and still finish near the top in kick return average among qualified returners.

e. Amik Robertson,  Louisiana Tech (Day 3)

⇒ 2017 All C-USA Second Team, 2018 and 2019 All C-USA First Team
⇒ The only player since 2017 to have career 130+ solo tackles, 10+ interceptions and 30+ passes defended.
⇒ One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football.
⇒ Can cover tight without drawing penalty. Led his team in solo tackles 2 of his 3 years.

f. Elijah Riley, Army (Day 3)

⇒ 2018 and 2019 Phil Steele’s All Independent First Team
⇒ Proven himself against elite wide receiver prospects for the past two seasons, while dominating against lesser teams. (thedraftnetwork.com)
⇒ In 2018 Riley had a 45.4% completion percent allowed and only 0.62 yards per cover snap. (PFF)
⇒ In 2019 had 55 solo tackles (12%), 3 interceptions (43%) and 6 passes defended (27%) showing team market share percents.
⇒ One of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which is awarded to the best defensive back in college football

7. An Edge Rusher

a. Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State (Top 5)

⇒ #1 in country in sacks and forced fumbles/game
⇒Team market share for solo tackles, TFLs & sacks in All-Pro range
⇒ 2019 Unanimous All-American

b. Curtis Weaver, Boise State (Day 1-2)

⇒ Mountain West First team every year – 2017, 2018, 2019; The 2019 MWC Defensive Player of Year
⇒ Led team in Sacks and Tackles for Loss all 3 years. Had Pro-Bowl level team market share percents in sacks and TFLs in every year with the exception of 2018 which was only 0.7% off.
⇒ Great burst off the snap, violent hands, tough and a high football IQ.

c. A.J. Epenesa, Iowa (Day 1-2)

⇒ 2018 All Big Ten Second Team and 2019 First Team.
⇒ Had Pro-Bowl indicative team market share in 2018 and 2019 in sacks (30%, 36%) and tackles for loss. (23%, 21%).
⇒ Strong hands with great usage, vast number of rush moves, hot motor and great timing.

d. Bradlee Anae, Utah (Day 2)

⇒ 2019 consensus All-American; 2018 and 2019 All Pac-12 First Team; winner of 2019 Morris Trophy recognizing the Pac-12 best defensive lineman as voted by Pac-12 starting offensive linemen.
⇒ Athletic, strong, competitive, great hand technique and with astrong blue-collar work ethic.
⇒ As of the end of November only Chase Young and Josh Uche had higher PFF pass-rushing grades than Anae’s 90.5 for this season.

e. Zack Baun, Wisconsin (Day 2)

⇒2019 Consensus All American; 2019 All Big Ten First Team.
⇒ One of seven draft eligible players to have 19+ tackles for loss and 12+ sacks in 2019. Below we see the players sorted by solo tackles with Baun having the most. His team market share percents were 11% solo tackle, 21% tackles for loss and 25% interceptions.
⇒ Versatile player. Great pass rush moves, quick first step off snap, sure tackler, can also drop back in coverage. PFF gave him a 90 grade in coverage in 2019.

 

f. Alex Highsmith, Charlotte (Day 2)

⇒2018 and 2019 All C-USA First Team.
⇒ A walk-on at Charlotte, Highsmith has improved every year. As graded by PFF he went from a 60.9 pass-rushing grade in 2016 to 71.2 in 2017 to 75.6 in 2018 to 91.4 as of the end of November 2019.
⇒ In 2019 Highsmith as number two in the nation in tackles for loss with 22 (25% team market share) and number three in sacks with 15 (40% team market share). He also had the second most solo tackles on the team with a 9% team market share.  He has the fifth most solo tackles in the nation for players with double digit sacks.

8. A quarterback on day 3.

a. Sam Ehlinger, Texas (Jr)

⇒ One of 11 players since 2000 to have 25 passing TDs and 15 rushing TDs in a season.
⇒ One of 8 players sine 2000 to have 2 seasons of 25+ passing TDs, 3000+ passing yards, 450+ rushing yards and a 145 passer rating.
⇒ good accuracy/ball placement on short/intermediate routes; good arm strength but tends to underthrow deep routes.

b. Brady White, Memphis (Jr)

⇒ Fourth in Passing Yards. (4,014)
⇒ Fifth in Passing Yards per attempt (9.5)
⇒accurate, smart, poised

c. Anthony Gordon, Washington State (Sr)

⇒ Top passing yards per game in the nation
⇒ Second in passing touchdowns
⇒ good accuracy and zip, good anticipation in throws, pretty fearless

d. Shane Buechele, SMU (Jr)

⇒ Sixth in the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns
⇒ 9.6% of his pass attempts completed as 25+ yards. That is higher than the average of the top 7 ranked quarterbacks.¹
⇒ Can hit small windows, football smart, clutch, good at deep passing
⇒ ” Shane Buechele is the most engaged, he’s the most prepared, he’s the most positive coaching backup quarterback I’ve ever been around in my life and I’ve been around some really good ones, really, really good ones,” – Texan head coach Tom Herman

e. Nate Stanley, Iowa (Sr)

⇒Career percentage of 28% TDs in red zone per attempt. Compares favorably to 2019 averages for top 7 quarterbacks of 29.8%.
⇒ In 2019 he made 1st down on 37.8% of his 3rd and 10 attempts. The average for the top 6 quarterbacks was 34.1%.
⇒ smart, accurate short to mid-range, good arm strength, good leadership

¹ (Burrow, Tua, Herbert, Love, Eason, Fromm, Hurts)

9.  A Place Kicker Day 3 Or Sign As UDFA

a. Dominik Eberle,  Utah State

⇒ One of only two current kickers to be perfect on over 160 career extra points.

b. Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

⇒Winner of the Lou Groza Award presented to the top college football placekicker in the nation.
⇒ Scored second most points among draft eligible kickers.

c. Jet Toner, Stanford

⇒  Toner’s 82.5% career field goal percentage is tie for best among draft eligible players.

d. Jonathan Song, TCU

⇒Song’s 95.8% field goal percentage on 24 attempts is the best among draft eligible kickers with over 13 attempts.

In Conclusion

The Reese Senior Bowl is less than two weeks away. Some of the players presented in this post have accepted invites. They are

Tulsa Reggie Robinson II DB AAC
Utah Bradlee Anae EDGE Pac-12
California Evan Weaver ILB Pac-12
Wyoming Logan Wilson LB MWC
Washington Nick Harris OC Pac-12
Wisconsin Zack Baun OLB Big Ten
Washington Trey Adams OT Pac-12
Georgia Rodrigo Blankenship PK SEC
Washington State Anthony Gordon QB Pac-12
Texas Devin Duvernay WR Big 12

Here is a spreadsheet of the prospects in this post – Draft Prospects.

The other interesting development will be the assembly of Joe Judge’s staff. Even though the head coach position is filled here is an older post that also looked at potential Coordinators for the Giants.

Enjoy the rest of the playoffs and the Giant  staffing developments!

The East West Shrine Game is this Saturday 01/18/20. Here are the players listed in this post that have accepted invitations

The East West Shrine Game 01/18/20 Saturday
San Diego State Luq Barco CB
Utah State Dominik Eberle PK
Pittsburgh Damar Hamlin DB
Charlotte Alex Highsmith DE
Army Elijah Riley DB
Mississippi State Darryl Williams OL

Some Notes On the Division Playoff Game Teams

Running the Ball Is Important to these teams

  1. Six of the eight remaining playoff teams were in the top ten in percentage of run plays and four were the top four teams.
  2. Only one of the remaining playoff teams was in the top ten in passing percentage and that team, the Chiefs, was tenth.

The First Seed Teams Really Excelled in 2019

Baltimore Ravens

  1. First in number of RPO plays by almost 100. They also have the highest percentage of run plays out of an RPO for teams that run 50+ RPO plays.
  2. First in yards per scramble (11.1). Their 40 scrambles was fifth highest in the league.
  3. First in first downs.
  4. First in passing touchdowns.
  5. First in rushing yards.
  6. First in rushing yards per attempt.
  7. First in rushing 1st downs.
  8. First in percentage of drives ending in a score (51.8%)
  9. The only team to have over 50% rushing play selection.
  10. Tie for 2nd in 3rd down conversion percent with 47.1%.
  11. First in 4th down conversion percent with 70.8% on 24 tries.
  12. First in Total Yards margin with + 1712 yards.
  13. First in Rushing Yards margin by almost 1300 yards over the 2nd team.
  14. First in points scored.
  15. First in points differential.
  16. First in second half score margin.
  17. First in average drive time, plays and points.
  18. Second in total yards, defense 1st downs allowed, defense passing TDs allowed, Offense rushing TDs and offense average drive yards.

San Francisco 49ers

  1. First in yards after the catch per completion (5.9 yards) .
  2. First in rushing touchdowns.
  3. First in opponents yards per offensive play allowed (4.7 yards).
  4. First in opponent passing yards.
  5. First in opponents net passing yards per attempt.
  6. First in opponents passing 1st downs.
  7. Second in Points scored, opponent total yards,  rushing yards, average starting position and opponent average drive yards.
  8. Fifth in 3rd down conversion% with 45%.
  9. Third in passing yards margin, first among remaining teams. Kansas is close at 130 yards less. But then among the remaining teams the next is Baltimore at 1045 yards less than Kansas with a -90 yards.

Teams Knocking On the Super Bowl Door

Minnesota Vikings

  1. The Vikings had the highest pocket time (2.7 secs) before passing or the pocket collapsed.
  2. Second in percentage of opponent drives that result in a turnover (17.7%)
  3. The Vikings have been to 4 Super Bowls and won zero. Over the past decade they have been to the playoffs three times and lost in the wildcard twice and the Conference once. Prior to this season quarterback Kirk Cousins had started in one playoff game which was a loss.

Kansas City Chiefs

  1. First in 3rd down conversion percent with 47.6%.
  2. Second in least interceptions thrown, net yards gained per pass attempt, percentage of drives ending in offensive score and average points scored per drive.
  3. The Chiefs have been to two Super Bowls and won one. Over the past decade they have been in the playoffs six times, losing 3 Wildcards, 2 Divisional and one Conference. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to the Conference Championship last year in his first year as the starting quarterback.

Green Bay Packers

  1. First in least number of interceptions thrown and second in team turnovers lost.
  2. The Packers have been to 5 Super Bowls and won 4. In the past decade they made the playoffs seven times and won a Super Bowl (2010 season), lost 2 Conference games, lost 3 division games and lost one wildcard game.

Don’t Let these Underdogs Hang Close.

Three of the four underdogs have performed well in game winning drives either this season or over the last 5 seasons. For 2019 regular season among remaining quarterbacks in the playoffs these three have the three highest game winning drives per game. If the game is close going into the fourth quarter these teams can definitely pull off the upset.

Tennessee Titans

  1. Second in 4th quarter score margin in 2019 regular season.  First among remaining teams. Ryan Tannehill has three game winning drives this season in only 10 starts. Tannehill is tie for ninth among quarterbacks for game winning drives over the last 5 seasons and he did not play in 2017. Among the remaining teams Tannehill has the third highest game winning drives per game for 2019.
  2. Second in rushing touchdowns,

Seattle Seahawks

  1. Russell Wilson is tie for first in game winning drives and 4th quarter comebacks with 5 and 4 respectively this season. Wilson has the second highest game winning drives per game among remaining quarterbacks for 2019.
  2. Second in defensive fumbles lost,

Houston Texans

  1. Deshaun Watson has the highest game winning drives per game among the remaining quarterbacks over the last five seasons. He has the highest 2019 game winning drives per game among remaining quarterbacks.

Enjoy the Games!

Wild Card Weekend Sunday Games

Today I take a look at the Wild Card Weekend Sunday Games. Going by points allowed and scored the Sunday games look to be the closer more competitive games compared to the Saturday games.

Vikings At Saints

Sunday, 1/5/20 at 1:05 ET

Viking RB Dalvin Cook

  • 1 of only 4 players to have 1600+ yards from scrimmage and score 70+ points
  • His 11.2 yards after the catch (YAC) per reception is first in the league.¹
  • His 4.54 yards per attempt make him 1 of only 19 backs with 100 attempts and a 4.5+ yards per attempt.

¹Cook averages -1.4 yards before the catch (YBC). When you add YBC and YAC then Cook trails backs Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders.

Viking DE Danielle Hunter

  • Hunter is fourth in the league with 14.5 sacks
  • His 15 tackles for loss (TFL) is tie for tenth.
  • Hunter is 1 of only 3 players with 14+ sacks, 15+ TFLs and 20+ QB hits.

The Vikings have

  • Second lowest number of missed tackles. They have only two more than the Patriots and 18 less than the third team.
  • Lowest yards after the catch allowed per reception with an average 3.79 yards. The next team is a half yard more and the league average is 1.2 yards more.
  • The fourth highest Interception percentage by the opponent offense.
  • The sixth highest yards after contact per rush attempt with a 2.3 yard average.
  • The fifth highest yards after catch per reception (5.8 yards)
  • The second most balanced run/pass percentage (49.1/50.9)
  • The fifth best combination ranking in points scored and points allowed ranking eighth and fifth in those respectively.

Saints QB Drew Brees

  • Top Pass Completion Percentage  (74.3%)
  • Top Sack Percent (3.08%)
  • Second Passer Rating (116.3)
  • Third Adjusted Net Yards Pass Attempts (8.3)
  • Third Pass Touchdown Percent (7.1%)
  • Fourth Pass Interception Percent (1.1%)
  • Lowest Bad Throw Percent (10.7%)
  • Highest On Target Percent (84.1%)
  • Pro Bowl 13 of 19 year career including the last four years.

Saints WR Michael Thomas

  • In 2019 broke all-time record for receptions with 149. The record had stood since 2002 when Marvin Harrison had 143.
  • His 1,725 receiving yards is tops this season and number seven on all-time season record list.
  • First in receiving 1st downs.
  • The fourth year player is a three year pro-Bowl selection and a one year All-Pro (2018).

The Saints are

  • Second in passing touchdowns.
  • Third in least number of interceptions thrown (tie).
  • Sixth in yards per play (5.9 yards).

I see this game as being close. For points scored and points allowed these teams match up pretty close with a slight edge to the Vikings. Personnel wise the edge goes to the Saints. They have the better quarterback and offensive line. The Saints  also have the home field advantage.

Pick to win: Saints

Seahawks At Eagles

Sunday, 1/5/20 at 4:40 PM ET

Eagle DT Fletcher Cox

  • His 22 pressures is eighth most among defensive tackles.
  • One of only seven defensive tackles to have 3+ sacks, 10+ QB hits, 5+ tackles for loss and 1+ forced fumble. Of the seven DTs Fletcher Cox has the most forced fumbles with 3.
  • Made the Pro Bowl each of the last 5 seasons and in 2018 was 1st Team All-Pro.

Eagle TE Dallas Goedert¹

  • Goedert’s 5.7 yards after the catch per reception is ninth best among tight ends.
  • One of only seven tight ends to have 5+ receiving touchdowns, 600+ receiving yards, 10+ yards per reception and 6.9+ yards per target.

¹ Would have chosen Zach Ertz but I am assuming Ertz will not play due to a lacerated kidney.

Seahawk QB Russell Wilson

  • Wilson’s 5 game winning drives and 4 fourth quarter comebacks this season are both tie for tops in the league.
  • Wilson’s 32 passing touchdowns is third in the league and his touchdown percentage is fifth.
  • Wilson’s 1% interception percent is tie for second in the league.
  • Wilson’s 106.3 passer rating is fifth in the league.

Seahawk LB Bobby Wagner

  • Wagner’s 159 tackles this season is tops in the league.
  • Wagner has 9 games this season with double digit tackles. That is tie with ARI Jordan Hicks for most in the league.
  • Wagner was elected for the last six Pro Bowls and has been a 1st Team All-Pro four times in that time-frame.

The Seahawks are

  • Ninth in total points scored.
  • Fourth in passing touchdowns.
  • Tied for third in least passing interceptions.
  • Fourth in rushing yards and tenth in rushing yards per attempt with 4.6 yards.
  • Third in rushing first downs.
  • Ninth in percentage of drives ending in an offensive score (36.3%)

The Eagles are

  • Fifth in 1st downs allowed – 6th in rushing ad 10th in passing.
  • Tenth in opponent rushing yards per attempt (4.1 yards)
  • Eighth in defensive percentage of opponent drives ending in a score (33.5%)

In combined ranking of points scored and points allowed the Eagles are 27th and the Seahawks are 31st out of a possible 64 with lower better. The Seahawks better in offense and the Eagles in defense.

Pro Football Focus ranked a healthy Eagles offensive line as the best in the league following the season. However OT Lane Johnson is questionable and OG Brandon Brooks is out. The Seahawks line was ranked as 27th.

The Eagles are banged up on receivers. For the last two weeks they have run a two tight end formation (1-2-2WRs) on 73% of their offensive snaps and it has been successful 47% of the time. In that time-frame the Seahawks have run a 1-1-3 formation (3 WRs) on 79% and it has been successful 37% on pass and 41% on run. Even with a depleted team on offense the Eagle have won their last four games. They are at home which will be an advantage.

Pick to win: Eagles ¹

¹(As a Giant fan I would be glad to see the Seahawks win but I think the Eagles have the advantage and I pick them to win)

All  the games this weekend look like good ones. I think they will be close. Enjoy the games!

Wildcard Weekend Saturday Games

Today I look at the first two playoff games scheduled on this Saturday. i highlight two of the best players on each team and give a little data on each team overall.

Bills At Texans

Saturday, 1/4 at 4:35 ET

Bills CB  Tre’Davious White

  • Six interceptions is in three way tie for most interceptions in 2019
  • Passer rating of 44.5 when targeted is ninth best in league
  • Completion percent of 49.5% is twelfth best in league
  • Among players with zero touchdowns allowed White had 2nd most targets

Bills DT Jordan Phillips

  • His 9.5 sacks are the second most sacks by a defensive tackle
  • Since 1982  his 9.5 sacks are the second most sacks in a season by a player weighing 330 lbs or more
  • On a negative note his 20.5% missed tackles is worst among defensive tackles.

The Bills have a strong defense second to the Patriots in the first four statistics listed here. The Bills are:

  • 2nd in Points allowed,
  • 2nd in Percentage of opponent drives ending in offensive score,
  • 2nd in Opponent Adjusted Yards per pass attempt¹
  • 2nd in Opponent Touchdown percent
  • 3rd in Opponent Passer Rating allowed,
  • 4th in Opponent yards per offensive play (tie),
  • 6th in Total passing 1st downs allowed (tie),
  • 7th in Opponent 3rd down conversion percent
  • 7th in Rushing Yards Margin
  • 9th in Total Yards Margin
  • 9th in Total yards after the catch allowed,
  • 10th in Passing Yards Margin
  • 10th in Opponent Interception percent
  • 10th in Turnover Margin

Texans QB Deshaun Watson

  • Watson is in a three way tie for the most game winning drives this season with five. Interesting that the opposing quarterback, Josh Allen, is one of the other two.
  • Mostly due to injury his rookie season Watson has only started 37 games his first three seasons. Watson ranks sixth among all quarterbacks in number of games with a 100+ passer rating in their first 37 starts with 19 games. The top quarterback is Tony Romo in 2006-2008 with 22.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins

  • Hopkins is one of ten players to have 5+ games of 100+ receiving yards this season.
  • Hopkins drop percentage of 2.7% is eighth best among players with 100+ targets this season.
  • Hopkins’ sixty-eight 1st down receptions in 2019 is third most in the league.

The Bills and Texans played last year and the Texans won 20-13. The keys to the game for the Texans were turnovers, a good game from DeAndre Hopkins, special teams play and the toughness of DeShaun Watson.

Houston ranks higher than Buffalo in almost all offensive statistics. However as shown above Buffalo has a dominating defense.

Houston’s special teams gives them a third rank defensive starting field position. That compares to a Buffalo special teams that gives a 14th ranked field position of 2 yards more on average. A 2011 study attributed for every 3 yards closer to their opponent’s end zone, a team will add 2 wins on average.

In turnover margin Buffalo has a plus 4 to Houston’s zero for the season. In the 2018 Texans-Bills game there were 3 turnovers by each team and a total six points off turnovers by each team.

DeAndre Hopkins is coming off an illness but should be okay to play. In two of his last three games he has had 100+ yards receiving. DeShaun Watson has been bothered by a back injury but also should be good to go. He is one tough quarterback.

Update: In going solely by points scored and allowed the game pits an exceptional Bills defense against a slightly above average Houston offense. Also you have a below average Bills offense against an slightly below average Houston defense. Coupled with this is a Hopkins and Watson that may not be full strength. Look for the Bills defense to take over and the Bills pull the upset victory.

Pick to win: Bills

Titans At Patriots

Saturday, 1/4 at 8:15 PM ET last

Titan RB Derrick Henry

  • Henry’s 1,540 rushing yards this season is tops in the league.
  • Henry’s 16 rushing touchdowns is tie with Aaron Jones for most in the league.
  • Henry’s 5.1 yards per rush attempt is tie for fifth in the league.
  • Henry’s 3.2 yards after contact per attempt is second in the league

Titan QB Ryan Tannehill

  • Ryan Tannehill started 10 games after replacing Marcus Mariotta. He is the only quarterback to have 9.5+ yards per pass attempt and a passer rating of 115+.
  • Tannehill’s pass yards after the catch per completion of 6.2 is tie for second in the league.
  • Tannehill’s completed air yards per pass attempt of 5.2 yards is tie for second in the league.

The Titans have a balanced, efficient offense. Since Ryan Tannehill started in week seven no team has a better passer rating than the Titans. They are the third most balanced team in play selection of run/pass (47/53). The Titans  are tie for third in yards per play with an average of 6.1 yards. Their 5.0 yards per rush attempt is tie for second. Since Tannehill started in week seven the Titans are first in net yards per pass attempt. The Titans have the highest touchdown percentage in the red zone with 75.6%. They are tied for third in number of all touchdowns.

Patriot CB Stephon Gilmore

  • Six interceptions is in three way tie for most interceptions in 2019
  • Twenty passes defended is first in the league
  • Passer rating of 43.4 when targeted is eighth in the league
  • Gilmore has scored 2 touchdowns off interceptions and allowed zero reception touchdowns.

Patriot ST Matthew Slater

  • The unsung hero of the Patriots is special teamer Mathew Slater. He has played special teams for his 12 year career on the Patriots. He has made 8 Pro-Bowls. He has been named a Pro Football Writer’s All Pro four times, one more time than Tom Brady.
  • In 2019 Slater scored his 1st touchdown on an 11 yard blocked punt return and also blocked a punt which led to an offensive Patriot touchdown.
  • Slater is a gunner on kicks which means he runs down the field very fast to be  the first players to make a tackle.

The Patriots have a smothering, stingy defense. They  rank first in

  • Defensive starting field position,
  • Points allowed,
  • Total passing 1st downs allowed (tie),
  • Total yards after the catch allowed,
  • Percentage of opponent drives ending in offensive score,
  • Opponent yards per offensive play (tie),
  • Opponent Passer Rating allowed,
  • Opponent Adjusted Yards per pass attempt¹
  • Opponent Touchdown percent
  • Opponent Interception percent
  • Turnover Margin
  • Opponent 3rd down conversion percent

¹ (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing TD – 45 * Interceptions) / (Passes Attempted)

Just a note that Belichick is big on special teams having started coaching in that area. Besides first in defensive starting field position the Patriots are also first in Offensive starting field position.

Update: I highlighted the strengths of both teams. In some way this is a classic battle of strong offense against a strong defense. However both teams are good on the opposite side of the ball also. The Patriots have the second ranked team in terms of combination of points scored and points allowed ranking seventh and first in those respectively. That combination should be too much for a Titans team that is in the top 34% of the league. Going by points scores and allowed the Patriots would fall in the top 12% of the league.

Pick to win: Patriots

Enjoy the Games!

Giants 2020 Free Agents – What To Do

With the start of the offseason the Giants have a large amount of free agents in 2020. Here is a proposed approach on whether to sign the free agents. It also takes a look at potential players not free agents that they may want to cut. Free agents that have signed will be bolded and noted in the blue text. I will update the list as developments occur.

Resign the following free agents:

a. Markus Golden – Most sacks by a Giant since Jason Pierre Paul in 2014.

b. Leonard Williams – Leads Giants interior linemen in QB hits in just 7 games.

c. Michael Thomas – Special teams captain, was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl as a special teams replacement.

d. Cody Latimer – His 81.8% 1st downs / reception is 8th in the league among players with 10+ receptions.

e. David Mayo – Highest graded Giant linebacker by PFF (73.4)

f. Javorius Allen– His 4.1 yards after contact per attempt is third in the league among backs with 5+ attempts. He has nine attempts.

g. Alex Tanney – Set the NCAA record for most career touchdown passes thrown by any player in any division. A mentor for Daniel Jones. Check out his trick shot video below.

h. Deone Bucannon – A 2014 1st round draft pick by the Cardinals. Made 2014 All-Rookie Team. Had 13.8% Cardinal team market share of solo tackles in 2015. Joined Giants 10/22/19. Worth another season at low salary.

i. Scott Simonson – a good blocking tight end. The Giants run a 2 tight end formation on a third of their rush plays. Ellison and Simonson may be the two best blocking tight ends on the Giants.

j. Corey Coleman – A 2016 1st round draft pick by the Browns. Coleman had a 36% team market share of receiving yards in his final year of college in 2015. His first two NFL seasons were hampered by injury. He was out the 2019 on the Giants with a torn ACL. He is worth a shot at a low salary.

k. Jon Halapio – A restricted free agent.  Halapio did not play great in 2019 and hopefully the Giants can sign him for a smaller amount than an original-round RFA tender. The Giants should draft a center and worst case Halapio would be backup.

l. Aldrick Rosas – A restricted free agent. Rosas had a bad season in 2019 after making the Pro Bowl in 2018. Among kickers with 10+ attempts his field goal percentage and points made ranked 30th. His extra points percentage ranked 27th. Sign Rosas and bring in some competition for the preseason either drafted or a undrafted free agent.

m. Elijha Penny – The Giants ran a two back personnel Group on 9% of their offensive snaps. When they rushed in those formations they were successful 41%. When there was 1-3 yards to go they used the 2 backs on 29% of the rush attempts and were successful 59%. In 2018 only 3 qualifying fullbacks were graded higher than Elijha Penny in run-blocking grades (63.2). Sign Penny and see how the new signed fullback – George Aston – competes in preseason.

n. Colin Holba – Zak DeOssie’s replacement as long snapper.

o. Cody Core – Cody Core is the second-highest graded Giants special teams player according to Pro Football Focus. Core leads the unit in tackles with seven, including five solo. Core has pinned at least three punts inside the 20 this year.

p. Chad Slade – Slade spent his first 2.5 years on the Texans practice squad. But in practice he would go up against JJ Watt. He is a competent backup to Solder who can play tackle or guard. He says he can even play heavy tight end if needed. (Exclusive Rights Free Agent – can only sign with Giants if they place the minimum salary tender) (Giants resigned OL Chad Slade)

q. Da’Mari Scott – promoted off the practice squad late November, Scott has had 2 receptions on three targets each for eleven yards. He has averaged 7 yards after the catch per reception. Against Washington he also had 1 rush for 5 yards. In college Scott played receiver but in his last season he was used on 14 rush attempts for a 6.6 yard average. The second year player also has returned punts and kickoffs. (ERFA)

r. Sean Chandler – In college Chandler was one of only 9 players since 2000 to have 10+ interceptions, 20+ passes defended, 180+ solo tackles and 2+ sacks. Two year AAC All-Conference Second Team. Through week 12 of the 2018 season Chandler was PFF’s second highest graded player on special teams. (ERFA)

s. Eric Smith –  Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent by Miami following the 2017 draft. Pro Football Focus had ranked Smith as the tenth best offensive tackle going into the draft. Smith took his first regular season NFL snaps week ten of this season with the Giants.(ERFA) (Giants resigned OL Eric Smith)

t. Amba Etta-Tawo – In 2016 in his senior year Etta-Tawo achieved a 38% team market share of Syracuse receiving yards. He made ACC All-Conference First Team. He was ninth in the nation in receiving touchdowns with 14.  (ERFA)

u. Isaiah Searight – A 2019 undrafted free agent. Scout reports are big size, fast tight end that can break coverage and high point catches. Blocking ability is questionable. A raw route runner. (ERFA)

v. Devante Downs – On 10/1/19 the Giants added LB Devante Downs to their practice squad. The second year player was waived by the Vikings. Downs was elevated to the 53 man roster on 10/22 and played special teams. In 4 years at Cal Downs had 110 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 5 interceptions and three forced fumbles. (ERFA) (The Giants resigned LB Devante Downs)

 

5. Let the following Free Agents Go

a. Eli Manning – Next up the Giants Ring Of Honor.

b. Mike Remmers – Nick Gates looks like an upgrade at Right Tackle. Unless sign Remmers for a lot less than his current $2.5 million as a backup.

c. Russell Shepard – 8 targets for 3 receptions this season. Over his 6 year career his Catch % never hit 60%.

d. Zak DeOssie – Colin Holba has filled in well for an injured DeOssie. It looks like time to move on after a great 13 year career on the Giants.

e. Antonio Hamilton – In his highest snap percentage on defense of his 4 year career Hamilton was targeted 9 times allowing 9 receptions for an average of 10 yards and 5 yards after the catch. His special teams performance alone can not justify the position.

f. Grant Haley – In 2019 PFF has graded Haley with a 53.3 grade. In 2019 Haley allowed a 111.8 passer rating when targeted and a 82.1% completion percentage for 32 completions. He had zero passes defended and has yet to get an interception. He committed one pass interference penalty for 15 yards. His 8.8 yards per target allowed is tie for 206th among 258 players.

6. Cut the following Player

a. Antoine Bethea – Bethea has been a liability in coverage this season. He was targeted 34 times and allowed 26 completions for a 75.6% completion percent. He allowed a passer rating of 145.2 when targeted. His yards per target of 13.8 was the worst in the league. He allowed an average 7 yards after the catch per completion. His base salary in 2020 is $2.5 million.

7. Trade the Following Player Or Else Cut

a. Alec Ogletree – Ogletree has also been a liability in coverage. He was targeted 48 times and allowed 42 completions for an 87.5% completion percent. Ogletree allowed a 109.6 passer rating when targeted. He allowed an average 6 yards after the catch per completion. His 16.7% missed tackles was 410th out of 459 players.

 

Prospects for the New York Giants’ New Coaching Staff

As the Giants begin the search for assembling their new coaching staff here are five potential candidates for head coach, defensive  and offensive coordinators. There is nothing implied by the order.

1. New Head Coach Prospects

a. Don Martindale, Ravens Defensive Coordinator – As two year defensive coordinator on the Ravens the team ranked second and third in points allowed. Believes in aggressive physical approach.

b. David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach – Record of 86-34 as Stanford head coach. Five bowl wins in eight years. Nine years NFL experience. Four years NFL Quarterback coach experience. He relies on the QB to call the right play among choices based on the defense. He believes in simple plays that look sophisticated.

c. Josh McDaniel, Patriots Offensive Coordinator – Experience with quarterbacks, defense, offensive coordinator and head coach. Seven years offensive coordinator and quarterback coach on the multiple Super Bowl Patriot teams. Believes in building plays around the strengths of your players.

d. Nick Sirianni, Colts Offensive Coordinator – quarterback coach for Phillip Rivers. Offensive coordinator for 2 years on Colts. Colts rushing yards per attempt went from 28th, to 21st to 12th. In 2017 prior to Sirianni with Jacoby Brisset as quarterback compared to 2019 with Sirianni and Brisset the Colts went from 30th to 17th on offense points scored. They improved significantly in most offensive statistics.

e. Robert Saleh, 49ers Defensive Coordinator – In three years as defensive coordinator the 49ers moved from last in points allowed (year prior) to eighth. Has 5 years experience as linebackers coach – an area the Giants need to improve.

2. New Defensive Coordinator Prospects:

a. Stephen Belichick, Safeties coach, New England Patriots – calling the defensive plays on what may be the best defense in the league.

b. Marvin Lewis, Arizona State, Special advisor – was DC on the 2000 Ravens which had one of the best defenses of all time.

c. Mike Nolan, Linebackers coach, New Orleans Saints – 1st year as DC on Giants in ’93 they allowed the least points in the league. They were in the top ten of least points allowed for 3 of his 4 years as Giants DC. (Update: Picked as Dallas Defensive Coordinator)

d. Dom Capers, Senior defensive assistant, Jacksonville Jaguars – Four of the Nine years (2009-2017) as Packers DC they were in top 12 teams of least points allowed.

e. Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator, UCF – During Shannon’s six years as the Hurricanes defensive coordinator (2001-2006), his defenses consistently finished among the best in the nation.

3. New Offensive Coordinate Prospects

a. Dan Mullen, Head Coach, Florida – A “quarterback whisperer” having tutored Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. He was brought along with Urban Meyer at a couple of Meyer’s coaching stops. He has run a spread offense, utilizing a quarterback’s ability to run, a power run game and big passing plays.

b. Jerry Schuplinski, Dolphins Assistant Quarterbacks Coach – has worked to help develop Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. was an offensive assitant three years on the Patriots. (Update: Picked as Giants Quarterback Coach)

c. James Urban, Ravens Quarterback Coach – Besides helping to improve Lamar Jackson’s passing game, Urban has previously worked with Michael Vick and AJ Green as a receivers coach. He was also an offensive assistant 2 years on the Eagles.

d. Jay Gruden, Former Redskins Head Coach- As the Bengals Offensive coordinator in 2011-2013 he helped improve the Bengals from 22nd in points scored in 2010 to 18th, 12th and 6th in his three years. After he left the Bengals dropped down to 15th.

e. Joe Brady, passing coordinator/receiver coach LSU – LSU leads the nation in points per game, is second in yards per game and first in red zone conversions. Prior to LSU Brady was offensive assistant on the Saints from 2017-2018. (Update: Picked as Offensive Coordinator Carolina Panthers)

It is an exciting time to see who they will assemble as the offseason has officially started for the Giants. Enjoy the next four months as the coaching staff is assembled, players are signed and eventually the draft arrives!